The federal government has approved the construction of a massive hydroelectric dam in northern British Columbia despite the severe impacts it would have on the cultures and economies of Indigenous peoples in the region.
The Site C dam would flood more than 80 km of the Peace River Valley. A joint federal/provincial environmental assessment found the dam would cause “profound” loss of natural habitat, would “severely undermine” First Nations, Métis and non-Aboriginal use of the area, and would submerge First Nations graves and others sites of cultural significance.
In a decision released on October 14th, federal Environment Minister Leona Aglukkaq said that the impacts of the project are “justified in the circumstances.” The Minister’s statement refers to jobs that will be created in the construction of the dam and the “clean, renewable energy” that will be produced.
However, the joint review characterized the dam as imposing significant social and environmental costs that would be borne by the very communities least likely to share in its benefits.